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Monday, January 30, 2023
<p>Najee Glass races in the 4x400-meter dash to close out the 2015 Florida Relays on April 4 at the Percy Beard Track.</p>

Najee Glass races in the 4x400-meter dash to close out the 2015 Florida Relays on April 4 at the Percy Beard Track.

With Florida’s men’s track and field claiming the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships on May 16, the Gators are hoping for similar success at the NCAA Outdoor East Preliminaries.

Coach Mike Holloway will travel with 36 Gators to the NCAA East Preliminary round in Jacksonville that begins on Thursday.

The meet will feature the top 48 athletes in each of the two regions in each individual event, and the top 24 relay teams in the region in each relay event.

The best 12 performers for both the individual and team events in each region will qualify for the NCAA Outdoor National Championships in Eugene, Oregon, which are being held on June 10-13.

The East Preliminaries also marks the beginning of a journey that the men’s team hopes will end in its third outdoor national title in four years.

Florida went back-to-back in 2012 and 2013 before finishing runner-up to host Oregon in last season’s national meet.

The Gator men come into the first round of the NCAAs with the fifth-most entries in the country.

Holloway’s men’s squad is also tied for second in the overall field in sprinter and hurdler entries with 10.

The 36 Florida athletes — 19 men and 17 women — are highlighted by the senior duo of jumper Marquis Dendy and sprinter Dedric Dukes on the men’s side, while the women’s squad is led by senior jumper Ciarra Brewer and junior sprinter Kyra Jefferson.

Dendy holds the national lead in both the long jump and triple jump events, while Dukes and Jefferson lead the NCAA in the men’s and women’s 200-meter sprint, respectively.

The Gators will also feature relay teams in both the men’s and women’s 4x400 and 4x100 races.

Florida was able to secure SEC titles in both of the 4x4 events at the SEC Outdoor Championship — becoming NCAA leaders in their respective events in the process.

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One of the more significant events of the weekend will be the men’s long jump.

Dendy and freshman KeAndre Bates come into the event with the two top times in the region, making Florida one of the favorites to send multiple athletes in the event to Eugene.

The women’s triple jump will feature Brewer, who is second in the country in the event, alongside freshman Darrielle McQueen and senior Gissell Warner — both ranked in the nation’s top-30.

Brewer goes into the meet with an impressive record in outdoor triple jumps, finishing outside the top-five in an event just once in her career — her first college outdoor event at 2012 Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.

The Gators will kickoff the weekend at noon on Thursday when senior thrower Kyle Strawn competes in the men’s hammer preliminaries, while throwers Fawn Miller and Kike Oniwinde will represent Florida in the javelin for the women’s side.

Follow Kyle Brutman on Twitter @KBrut13

Najee Glass races in the 4x400-meter dash to close out the 2015 Florida Relays on April 4 at the Percy Beard Track.

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